Study for a Camera on a Plot of Land in the Desert

2021
installation

For several years, I’ve been engaged with a stationary radio transmitter installed in the California Mojave desert that captures data from its surrounding and is fueled only by the sun. The results of its measurements are transmitted via radio waves by using existing amateur radio networks.

My aim is to create a numeric model of the specific desert location from this data, which will exist as a virtual mirror-image of the physical location (made visible on a website). The transmitter (autonomous probe) continuously feeds data to and updates the website. The question I want to contemplate is how one would experience a place solely through sensor data, code, and electronics from afar and by doing so explore the blind spots, problematic assumptions, and subjectiveness in this experimental setting. Ultimately, I want this project to contribute to our relationship to the environment. In its current iteration, installed in the vicinity of Joshua Tree, California, in the Mojave desert, the color of the sky is being periodically measured. Formally, the object is inspired by the cyanometer by Horace Bénédict de Saussure and Alexander von Humbold from 1789. The installation in Lindabrunn will feature an in-progress visualzation of real-time data gathered this way.

©Gottfried Haider

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